A topic of much discussion over the last five or ten years. In truth, people have been vegan or vegetarian since the time of the ancient Greek philosopher, Pythagorean. These diets have increased in popularity throughout the years with the influence of individuals in the media and in certain religions (i.e., Hinduism and Buddhism).
There is a lot of discussion over whether or not veganism is healthy for a person. My own opinion is that no, being vegan doesn't mean you are necessarily more healthy than a meat-eater.
As a reminder, a vegan does not eat any product which has something from an animal. Examples of these products are honey, milk, cheese, and meat. Vegetarians do not eat any meat but they do eat cheese and milk. I have been a vegetarian for two years!
I know many vegetarians and vegans who eat animal-free junk food all day long. I used to live with someone who identified as vegetarian. All she would eat was macaroni and cheese and Cheetos - this could not have been good for her.
I have also met and read stories about people who have a very healthy vegan diet. These diets consist of fruits, grains, nuts, tofu, and vegetables. They also get to eat Oreos and other desserts!
As a grocery shopper for Shipt, I have met all sorts of people who eat all sorts of different foods. I have shopped for people who are meat-eaters, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and lactose-free. None of them are more inherently healthy in their shopping choices from my experience.
Whether or not I think veganism is healthy (which I think it definitely can be), research has found that going vegan has significant health benefits. One of these benefits is lower blood pressure. Veganism has also been known as an effective treatment for type II diabetes because it allows the vegan to have better glucose control.
Aside from the health benefits, a vegan diet is more sustainable for the environment. If enough people go vegan, it could shake the meat industry into changing the acceptable conditions for the animals which later become our food. Right now the animals live in unfair and unacceptable conditions.
So why, after stating all of these great benefits of an animal-free diet, would a vegetarian like myself not go vegan?
There are actually a few good reasons I have yet to stop eating milk and cheese. For starters, as I have said before, I am a big foodie. I am a believer in a moderately hedonistic lifestyle (where you do things that you enjoy because you enjoy them) which sometimes conflicts with my vegetarian diet. As a result, in the two years as a vegetarian, I have eaten fish around once a month and I have had chicken about once a year.
I would have to give up ice cream and pizza as I know them if I became vegan - these are my favorite foods. I could eat non-vegan versions of those foods but they are often more expensive and do taste slightly different from the original item.
Which brings me to my next point: the price of vegan food. If you use meat and cheese substitutes in your diet (as I do), going vegan is extremely expensive. Being a vegetarian is already expensive enough. I know there are ways to eat cheaply on a vegan diet but I like certain flavors and foods too much to give up.
Being a vegan also comes with a whole other set of moral codes you must abide by to be a true "vegan". Vegans do not use shampoos, conditioners, lotions, makeup, and other products that are made from animal products of any kind. I am sure there are some products I may have to stop using.
The community of vegans can often be very close-minded towards people who only practice veganism in their diets. Twitter has made me terrified of the vegan community because they seem rude towards meat-eaters and everyone else who is different than them.
So I do want to be vegan, but not a full-time one. A part-time one. Because life is short and I still want to be able to enjoy ice cream and pizza for time to time without fear of being berated by the Twitterverse.
I will continue to limit my consumption of animal products because I believe that is the way I should live my life. But I will not condemn you for living yours differently.